‘No decisions’ on closing border says Kremlin, as thousands continue to leave

A woman in the city of Bataysk reacts as reservists drafted during partial mobilisation depart for military bases (Reuters)
A woman in the city of Bataysk reacts as reservists drafted during partial mobilisation depart for military bases (Reuters)

The Kremlin has refused to deny that Russia could close its borders to prevent an exodus of military-age men who could be conscripted to fight in Ukraine.

The statement follows a rush to the borders by many after president Vladimir Putin announced last week that as many as 300,000 could be called up to fight.

Asked about the possibility of border closures, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “I don’t know anything about this. At the moment, no decisions have been taken on this.”

Multiple reports have documented how people with no military service have received draft papers – contrary to defence minister Sergei Shoigu’s pledge that only those with special military skills or combat experience would do so – prompting even loyal pro-Kremlin figures to publicly express concern.

Peskov acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, saying mistakes were being corrected by regional governors and the ministry of defence.

More than 2,000 people have been detained across Russia for protests at the draft, says independent monitoring group OVD-Info. With criticism of the conflict banned, the demonstrations were among the first signs of discontent since the war began.

A 25-year-old gunman was detained after opening fire on Monday at a military draft office in Russia’s Irkutsk region, the local governor said.

Almost 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland over the weekend, Finnish authorities said, while Russian state media said the estimated wait to enter Georgia hit 48 hours at one point on Sunday, with more than 3,000 vehicles queuing.

A senior lawmaker said Russian men of fighting age should not be allowed to travel abroad.

“Everyone who is of conscription age should be banned from travelling abroad in the current situation,” Sergei Tsekov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, told the RIA news agency.

Ukraine’s armed forces claimed that some Russian conscripts are being sent directly to the frontlines without training.

Meanwhile, Ukraine claimed to have discovered more mass burial sites in the northeastern town of Izyum which Kyiv recaptured earlier this month from Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

“They found two more mass graves, big graves with hundreds of people,” President Zelensky said, as he called for further international sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime over potential war crimes.

Ukrainian authorities earlier this month launched an investigation into a large burial site discovered next to a cemetery in Izyum after the months-long Russian occupation of the Kharkiv Oblast town.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor previously declared Ukraine a “crime scene” after visiting a mass burial site in Bucha near Kyiv when Russian troops fled in April.

Kyiv also said on Monday that further heavy fighting had seen more than 40 towns hit by Russian shelling, mostly in southern and southeast Ukraine.

President Zelensky met his security chiefs on Monday to plan ways to counteract Russia’s use of “new types of weapons” after Moscow stepped up attacks in the Odesa region using Iranian combat drones.

Russia carried out at least five attacks on targets in the region using unmanned Shahed-136 drones in the last few days, Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for Odesa’s regional administration, told a news briefing.

One of the attacks hit an undisclosed military target in the southern region in the early hours of Monday, he said.

(With agencies)